A Craig Murray Q&A
Craig Murray is a professional skier on the Freeride World Tour (FWT).
He’s a kiwi currently residing in Europe. His calendar consists of filming trips, projects, and a couple of EWS rounds squeezed in for good measure.
He grew up riding bikes, but they naturally fell onto the backburner when chasing winters and studying. The pandemic gave him an opportunity to spend some more time on two wheels. With a Switchblade under him, the passion for flying down trails came flooding back. He put time aside to incorporate riding into his calendar. With his brother recently becoming a professional EWS rider and fellow kiwis on PFR team, he had a direction to follow.
The first obstacle was getting an entry into the packed races.
After securing a last-minute spot in the EWS100 in Tweed Valley he landed on the podium which gave him enough points for the next two rounds in the pro category.
Let’s hear from his perspective of the events, and racing bikes compared to skis.
Craig, how was racing EWS for the first time?!
It was a bit of a shock to the body, both physically and mentally. I came pretty much straight from winter, luckily the stages in Scotland weren’t too long and I could somewhat ease into the 100 category. Mentally I found it hard to concentrate for more than 2 minutes. I’m used to focusing on ski runs, but that is over a lot faster. So, I’d often notice my concentration lapsing and mind wandering. I unfortunately found out the hard way. During my first pro stage in Slovenia I clipped a tree and ended up at the local hospital.
Ouch, that doesn’t sound good, so that ruled you out the rest of the event, how about the following event in Canazei?
So, I took the week off and tried to heal up. I really wanted to race Canazei as it was my last chance to ride before my next winter project. I rested and slept for a couple days then was able to do a few walks in the beautiful Dolomites with family and friends visiting.
Practice came around on Friday, I still had stiches and a couple of bruises, but luckily all of the X-rays from the weekend before were clear. So, I made the call to see how practice goes. I took it easy, stayed upright, and it gave me enough confidence to throw the hat in the ring for the pro stage on Saturday. My main goal was to stay on my bike throughout the weekend and enjoy it all. Crossing the 6th stage finish line, I was stoked to be in one piece and complete my first EWS. I ended up in 67th which was a result to be proud of but also leaving plenty of room for improvement.
What are some similarities and differences between the EWS compared to your FWT events?
One similarity is the start gate feeling, you have to be confident, relaxed, prepared and trusting. I think it will always be an intense atmosphere before throwing yourself down a mountain with gravity, no matter the transport method.
The biggest difference for me is racing the clock, instead of the result being determined by a judging panel. I find this refreshing in a lot of ways because only you are in control, and the clock doesn’t lie.
Having suspension is nicer on your knees too ha…
Any advice for others interested in the EWS?
I was stoked to check out the EWS scene, there’s a great community of riders and I loved the privateer culture. If anyone is interested to give Enduro a go, I strongly recommend just entering and going along for the ride and having some good laughs. It’s not about serious racing and results, the whole experience is what I’ll be back for!